We started early and worked late last week clearing the calendar of many bills that were just one-liners. A lot of bills are generated by constituent requests. Things like naming a stretch of highway or a bridge or sometimes creating a new license plate for veterans and the like. Most of the time, these things are done at no cost to the state and take only a short time to pass. I've said before that upwards of 1,000 bills are proposed each year but only a small fraction make it through the process. Most of the time there is an average of five years to get a bill passed. This is how it should be.
Some bills are just too complicated to make it past all the special interest groups. A good example is the bill I have unsuccessfully carried for three years trying to require sprinkler systems in nursing homes. All we are actually trying to do with the bill is define the language in an existing law and allow it to be implemented. There are dueling special interests that want the definition to be more favorable to each of them and, consequently, they keep killing the bill. Fine, next year I'll write a brand new bill and use the language it should have had in the first place. I guess it's better to learn your lesson and go on than be stubborn and get nothing accomplished.
Some bills are really simple; not so with Senate Bill 26. The bill is actually an economic development proposal and has several parts. In a nutshell, it reduces income taxes at all levels. The bill aims to make Missouri not only business-friendly, but family-friendly, entrepreneur-friendly, and job-creator friendly. Now, the nay sayers came out in force and predicted economic disaster for everything from schools to social programs, but the bill has a built-in stopping device. Simply put, if the tax cuts don't work as expected, we discontinue them. This legislation will now go back to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor's desk.
Speaking of the administration, they are still changing their stand on the DOR fiasco. It seems as if there is a new person to blame every week. Now they expect us to believe that the feds wanted our personal information scanned by the license bureau so they could stop Social Security fraud. The governor has still refused to answer a subpoena to testify in the court case in Stoddard County. If this isn't bad enough, there was a new game uncovered last week. The Department of Social Services was contracting with a private corporation to move people off state aid programs with work incentives, (read that as requiring aid recipients to work) and placing them on 100 percent federal disability! The private company was paid $2,300 for each person they shifted by the state of Missouri. Does the Nixon administration think that just because it's Federal money, we don't have to pay for it?
Page 2 of 2 - A bill was passed by 119 to 36 that keeps business owners from restricting people from having firearms in their personal vehicles on company parking lots. The bill handler successfully argued that in some areas, we are subjected to significant danger driving to and from our place of work. The bill also protects business owners from liability for any damage or injury that results from allowing guns to be legally carried in cars.
I was visited by the Southwest City eighth graders on Wednesday and the Noel group on Thursday. I absolutely love to have the schools visit and it's great to hear them talk about the Capitol. Many Missourians only visit their Capitol as grade school students and I encourage you to come back! There are great tours to go on and the spring is absolutely beautiful. The building itself is arguably the most beautiful in the country.
In closing, I have another "food for thought" line for you: "If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than 10 rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt, you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots."
Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Mo. House of Representatives. Contact him locally at 437-8223 or at his Jefferson City office at (573) 751-9801 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.